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The Ghost of Patrick Swayze.

Why Presentation Software Was Never Designed to Run an Effective Board Meeting.


Johannes Gutenberg is credited for inventing the printing press around 1455.  And, it is still considered one of the most important and impactful innovations in the history of human people.  Look at that alliteration.  Guessing JG couldn’t do that.

Obviously, there have been a kajillion improvements to Johannes mechanical, moveable machine.  Look at that…another alliteration.

Interestingly, we can’t really say the same about the deck.  I mean, we can, but we’d be sort of lying.  PowerPoint came out in 1987.  And, we loved it for years and years.  

  • I used PPT to ask Anna W to prom.  We frenched. 

  • I presented my mom and dad with my idea for a red pepper flake kiosk in every mall using PPT.  Think about it.  Fresh red pepper flakes just before going into Foot Locker and Sunglass Hut. 

  • And, I definitely used PPT when I pitched an entirely new coaching staff, which included me and most of my friends, to the Detroit Lions.

But, do we really need to keep using decks for everything today?  The answer is no. Decks are great for a presentation at SXSW or a TedTalk.  They seem to be best for one person presenting to a large group. 

But, decks are just not designed for easy storytelling or engagement.  And, decks are definitely not optimized for surfacing your most pressing content.  ESPN, Axios, The New York Times and Mashable would never present a story in a rectangle. And, none of the social media platforms optimize for engagement using slides.  

So, why do we insist on using the same static, rectangle box for our board meetings?  Well, there really hasn’t been any other choice.

The CEO of a company that uses Zeck is a former big shot at Amazon. He explained that some of his love for Zeck stems from Amazon’s disdain for decks.  At Amazon, you’re not allowed to use a deck.  

I just found this quote about it from Bezos…

“PowerPoint-style presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of relative importance, and ignore the interconnectedness of ideas.”

I think it’s fair to say that we agree with Bezos' sentiments.  In fact, one of our seven slogans is It’s not a deck, It’s a Zeck.  

A Zeck is an interactive, engaging website. And, it’s fair to say that it’s the easiest site to build ever (tested by my mom) which is a testament to these really smart people on our team called engineers.  The engineers have names but if we reveal ‘em, some mean recruiter will bother them ten times a day.  Anyway, with a website, your board materials can flow like a great, very easy to read, story.  Like Siddhartha, if it was a little easier to read.  Because Zeck is a website, you can use links to keep the content concise, while still allowing board members to click through if they want to dig deeper.  

And, when your board is done reading your story, they should: 

  1. Have a pretty good understanding of your prior quarter and outlook. Or, something close to that. And,

  2. Be ready to engage and help you.  Sections titled What You Need to Know, Questions for Discussion, Highlights, Lowlights and What’s Keeping Me Up at Night all allow you to easily surface information that your board will actually care about.  Make it easy for them to help you.

So, if done well…

  1. Your leadership team is easily contributing their story without being burdened by an old-school rectangle format. 

  2. You’re surfacing the key information about your company that your board will actually care about.

  3. You're activating ways for your board to engage and actually help you. 

  4. There is no number four.  

Perhaps most importantly, one time at Moosejaw someone on our team said she saw the ghost of Patrick Swayze on her laundry machine. He was wearing overalls and eating a bowl of cereal.

We’re not sure what kind of cereal though. 

Decent Humans of Zeck

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